An espionage-themed role-playing-game
The term role-playing game (RPG) often conjures images of swords, sorcery and dice-rolling.
While it’s true that many RPGs tend to stick to Tolkien-themed fantasy worlds in the mould of Dungeons and Dragons, there are a brave few that dare to be different.
Alpha Protocol is one such example. Here, the RPG template is transposed to a backdrop of international espionage in the style of a James Bond film. Your character, Michael Thornton, is an up-and-coming operative from a covert government agency who suddenly finds himself caught in a global super-conspiracy.
Depending on how you play through the first few missions, Alpha Protocol might appear to be a straightforward third-person shooter. You can run, duck, fire at enemies or attempt to sneak past them, in the same way you might in any number of similar games.
Behind the scenes though, there are plenty of role-playing mechanics at work. Statistics govern the accuracy of your shots, for example, while experience points earned from your achievements can be applied to your skills to augment your abilities.
With its unique setting and combination of role-playing with action, Alpha Protocol is full of ambition. It’s a game of impressive scope that unfolds differently depending on the various choices you make. It’s full of good ideas too, such as a clever dialogue system that rewards you with perks for successfully charming, impressing, intimidating or otherwise influencing the various characters you talk to.
Sadly, Alpha Protocol never quite lives up to its lofty aspirations. For a start, its appearance is somewhat bland. The character models, animations, environments and even the menu screens look unimaginative. The dialogue is equally uninspiring, while the characters, including Thornton himself, lack any charisma and are largely two dimensional.
The various in-game graphical glitches we ran into don’t help matters. You may experience these even if your PC exceeds the system requirements (2.4+ GHz dual-core processor, Nvidia Geforce 6800GT or better graphics card).
Alpha Protocol fails to blend its action and role-playing elements as successfully as games such as Mass Effect 2. With some extra polish and attention paid to small details, it could have been better, but sadly Alpha Protocol is a missed opportunity.
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Alpha Protocol successfully combines role-playing, spy-vs-spy espionage, and fast-paced action. However, its bland visuals and characters prevent it from being a tuly great game. Good Points: Original setting for an RPG; clever dialogue system; Bad Points: Poor dialogue; bland visuals PEGI: 15+
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